Easter get-away troubles
(19/3/2015) Easter is fast approaching, and with it the first big national getaway of the year. Cue the slew of stories in the media about delays, jams and gridlock.
And although the reality is sometimes less horrendous than we fear when we head off on on our travels, there’s no doubt that travel chaos is a serious problem during holiday seasons. You only need to look at the Christmas railway nightmare last year.
So what do you do if you get stuck out there and your Easter travel plans go awry? This week, we take a look at your rights if things go wrong with your travel plans. And remember, if it goes wrong for you, don’t get mad - get redress by raising your issue via www.resolver.co.uk. It’s free and it’s simple to use.
So, fingers crossed you won’t encounter any problems. But if you do, here’s our guide to how complain.
Going off the rails?
The official rules
When you take a train, you purchase a ticket under the National Rail Conditions of Carriage and these are referenced on the ticket.
It is important to realise that this information covers only your basic rights. Some train operating companies (also known as TOCs) may offer you improved compensation.
One hour is key! If your train is more than an hour late then you are definitely entitled to compensation. As a minimum you are entitled to a refund of 20% of your single ticket and 10% of your return ticket. However, you can find the compensation can actually be as high as 50% for more than a 30-minute delay. If something does go wrong, always remember to ask.
The bad news is your compensation will be in the form of National Rail vouchers, so you will be back on the trains again! You can choose any train company to use these with but they cannot be used for online train ticket purchases. Keep persisting and some companies will change these vouchers to a cheque refund.
If you are not satisfied
If you are not satisfied with the resolution then you have the right to escalate your case to Passenger Focus covering outside of London and London Travelwatch for London.
What about incidental costs?
If your train is delayed and you cannot get to your final destination, you can claim for hotel or taxi costs. However, you should make the stationmaster or train conductor aware of the situation. Be sure to take down their name in case you need to prove you gave them advanced warning.
Airs and graces
If you’re escaping Blighty for the Easter holidays, or just tripping from one end of the UK to the other, it’s going to put the kybosh on your plans if your plane is late or cancelled.
How much can you claim?
If your flight is delayed, what can you claim in compensation?
• If the flight is less than 1,500km and the flight is more than three hours late, then you can claim €250 (around £200)
• If the flight is between 1,500 and 3,000Km and the flight is more than three hours late, then you can claim €400 (around £315)
• If the flight is more than 3,000km and leaving the EU, or is a EU airline flying into the UK and is between three and four hours late, then you could get back €300 (around £240). If it is more than four hours late, then you could expect up to €600 (around £480).
If you are struggling to claim compensation, then submit your issue via www.resolver.co.uk for free . You could use a claims management company (CMC), but they would charge you between 15% and 30% of your compensation for handling the claim and we believe this is wrong – a CMC should be your last resort.
If the airline rejects your issue, then you can send your case to the Civil Aviation Authority, which can assess your complaint and provide comment on whether or not the airline should pay out. Only then should you consider a claims management company.
Hotels – your rights
A popular Easter getaway tactic is a hotel mini-break. But what can you do if you feel your stay away is substandard?
Know what you are paying for…
Online hotel reviews are available from a number of different sites such as TripAdvisor where you can compare hotel ratings. The guide is a good source of information about hotels and the facilities.
However, we have noticed that when rooms at highly rated hotels are booked though discount room sites (especially last minute deals), the hotel is actually filling up their cheapest and worst rooms. So you could find that the room does not match your expectations, despite the great reviews.
If you purchased the hotel accommodation directly and you find it to be substandard, you should report the issue immediately. We would recommend that you report the issue to the Duty Manager immediately. Clearly explain the issue and state what action you expect from management. Take a note of the person’s name, date and time of conversation and what (if anything) was agreed.
If they cannot move you to another room or are unable or unwilling to resolve the issue, be sure to make a formal complaint. You can use Resolver to submit and manage your complaint. At this stage, it is important that your issue is formally submitted in writing. Be sure to collect as much evidence as you can during your stay to support your case including:
• A diary of your problem;
• Photos or video coverage;
• Names and addresses of anyone who has experienced the same issue;
• Receipts for any monies that you needed to spend as a result of the issue
Booked through a website or travel agent
If you have the same issue but have booked through a travel agent or website, it is important to note that they are acting as the agent for the hotel. Therefore your contract is with the hotel and not with the website or travel agent.
Bought through a credit or debit card
If you bought the room using your credit card and the hotel cost more than £100 (but less than £30,000) then under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act the Credit Card company is also responsible for your issue. Therefore you should contact them and ask for compensation.